New amfAR Fellowships Support Innovative Research on Antibodies, Treatment Interruption, and Aging and HIV


New amfAR Fellowships Support Innovative Research on Antibodies, Treatment Interruption, and Aging and HIV

Funding provides critical boost to talented young HIV researchers

NEW YORK, March 19, 2024 — amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, announced Tuesday it is awarding Mathilde Krim Fellowships in Basic Biomedical Research to three researchers: Gabriel Duette, Ph.D.; Kalen Petersen, Ph.D.; and Simone Richardson, Ph.D.

Named for amfAR’s founding chairman, the Krim Fellowship program provides a much-needed source of funding for exceptional young investigators, facilitating their transition to an independent research position. Financial support can be difficult for aspiring young scientists to obtain, yet they are often those with the most innovative ideas.

“amfAR’s Krim fellows represent the brightest of the next generation of HIV researchers,” amfAR CEO Kevin Robert Frost said. “The funding they receive isn’t just about supporting these very important studies, but it’s also about infusing the field of HIV research with the talent, vitality, and creativity that will enable us to end the AIDS epidemic once and for all.”

Two researchers–Drs. Duette and Richardson–aim to learn more about factors that contribute to the human immune system’s ability to control HIV.

Based at the Westmead Institute for Medical Research in Westmead, Australia, Dr. Duette is studying individuals who have undergone planned antiretroviral treatment interruptions as part of a therapeutic intervention. He aims to see if cycles of therapy interruption and re-initiation lead to an increase of CD8+ killer T cells capable of clearing HIV-infected cells from the body and can influence the genetic makeup of rebounding virus. While HIV begins replicating rapidly in most people who stop treatment, a select few are able to control the virus for months or even years. With a $179,995 grant, Dr. Duette will study a cohort of these individuals to better understand why they’re able to control their HIV infection after treatment interruption.

Dr. Simone Richardson will study a segment of antibody molecules known as Fc, known to regulate anti-HIV immune responses produced by potent antibodies. From her lab at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases in Johannesburg, South Africa, Dr. Richardson will examine the possibility that Fc functions are optimized by the evolution of certain antibody mutations. She receives $179,164 for the study, which could contribute to the development of both therapeutic and protective HIV vaccines.

Dr. Kalen Petersen of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri, looks to better understand the world’s aging population of people living with HIV. Due to increased life expectancy thanks to antiretroviral therapy, more than half of those living with HIV in the U.S. are over the age of 50. HIV is known to increase systemic inflammation, even in those on antiretroviral therapy, but whether the virus accelerates aging and aging-related health concerns is the subject of debate. With funding of $179,757, Dr. Petersen will use imaging and laboratory-based tests to identify factors that enable resilient aging in people living with HIV.

“Since its creation in 2008, the Krim fellowship program has supported 62 young scientists with $9.7 million in funding; through this latest class, amfAR continues its 40-year dedication to supporting young scientists and investing in bold ideas,” amfAR senior scientific consultant Dr. Jeffrey Laurence said. “Each of these projects has the potential to fill critical knowledge gaps and bring us closer to a cure for the 39 million people who are living with HIV.”

About amfAR
amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, is one of the world’s leading nonprofit organizations dedicated to the support of AIDS research, HIV prevention, treatment education, and advocacy. Since 1985, amfAR has invested nearly $635 million in its programs and has awarded more than 3,800 grants to research teams worldwide. Learn more at

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